This Just Tested: How PPC specificity drove 21% more clicks and cut costs 66%


It has been a while since we have published Pay Per Click (PPC) ad testing. Lately, it can seem like PPC has taken the back seat to topics like social media and mobile. However, PPC remains an integral part of the online marketing campaigns for many of our own Research Partners, so we are still testing to discover the most effective ways to craft PPC ads.

So enough introductions and segues, let’s get down to the test.


This experiment involves a business-to-business (B2B) software provider. They were trying to optimize one of their best lead generation conversion paths. They started by focusing their test efforts on the channel driving traffic through this process, the PPC ad.

At the end of the day, they would end up testing and optimizing the complete conversion path (from PPC ad to form page). And the overall gains this company achieved are going to turn some heads on today’s web clinic, but for the sake of this blog post, let’s just look at how they optimized their paid search marketing campaign.

The original PPC ad

PPCThe original ad used mainly vague qualitative statements (e.g., “award-winning,” “business software,” “fully integrated”) throughout, giving the ad little distinction from others.

Of course, there are limited characters within a PPC ad and it can be difficult to include deep specifics for certain claims and offers. But, as we will see from this test, sometimes it pays to get creative with our ad copy.

The new PPC ad

PPC 2For the test, we were able to fit a bit more specific language on the second line of this ad. We included exact figures that underscored the popularity of this software. They have more than 6,459 current customers and their software is the top used by businesses.

It is important to note that, though “award-winning” could be expounded and specified, we had to balance the information we wanted to include in the ad with the amount of characters available. So we made sure that “award-winning” was explained immediately on the landing page customers reach by clicking on this ad.

The results

Overall we saw the click-through for the new ad increase 20.9% with no significant increase to the cost-per-click. For such a crowded market, an increase like this is nothing to turn your nose up at. This PPC was just one part of a holistic optimization strategy that, in the end, decreased the cost-per-acquisition by 66.4% and increased revenue by 267.9%.

So what’s does this mean for you?

This test underscores two key principles that we should all walk away with:

  • First is the value of SPECIFICITY. Using clear statements provides a greater value perception in the mind of the user. If we want our PPC ads to stand out, we ought to use quantitative statements instead of (the much more common) qualitative claims. It’s a simple strategy, but it can have a significant impact on our efforts.
  • Second is the importance of STRATEGY. This takes the complete picture to see clearly, but small gains are more powerful as part of a holistic optimization strategy. This 21% increase would be multiplied tenfold at the end of the day after we had optimized each step in the conversion funnel of this offer. So, when possible, test holistically.

Dr Flint McGlaughlin will be talking more about this second principle on today’s web clinic, as he walks through the entirety of this case study from PPC ad to the form submission page. He will explain in more detail how this company’s testing strategy took a 21% gain and multiplied it tenfold.

Related Resources

Compounding ROI of Sequential Conversion Rate Increases: How one company took a small gain and multiplied it tenfold

PPC Innovation: How will Google’s new lead capture extension affect your pay-per-click campaigns?

Face Your Fears: Why visitors really bounce from your site, part 2

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  1. John Hyde :: York, England says

    Good result, guys.

    There’s always room to improve – then improve again. For example the “award” – how important is this to prospects? Did you test with and without ?

  2. Austin McCraw says

    @John Hyde :: York, England

    Great question, John.

    We did test more versions of this ad (over 15 in the course of 18 weeks), some of which removed the mention of the “award” and others that angled it differently. But this ad we are showing here is the current best performer. So right now, we know “award-winning” has some impact on customer perception, but we have most likely not discovered the best wording for yet. As mentioned in the post, we did get more specific with the awards on the landing page, and that had a significant impact on conversion. We’ll talk about that more on today’s web clinic.

    But either way, you are correct. There is always room to improve the messaging of our PPC ads, so we test and then test again.

    Thanks for the question!

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